DUWAMISH SUPERFUND: CITY COMMITMENTS ON CLEANUP AND HEALTH IMPACTS

Duwamish River and Industrial District, 1999

Duwamish River and Industrial District, 1999

On Wednesday, June 12, Mayor McGinn and eight Councilmembers sent a letter to the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC) expressing our support for the DRCC’s work to engage the community and ensure that our Superfund cleanup investments result in a cleaner and safer river for all. The letter acknowledged that the EPA proposed cleanup could be improved and suggested ways to do that. It also committed the City to working on upstream source control work to prevent recontamination of the River and to implementing recommendations of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to improve the economic, social, and physical health of the communities around the Duwamish.

Seattle and the other members of Lower Duwamish Working Group (LDWG – King County, Port of Seattle, and The Boeing Company) proposed specific recommendations for changes in the EPA proposed plan that will save money, shorten the length of the project, and result in a cleaner river. The City also committed to working with the EPA and the Department of Ecology to adjust actions over time if our investments in monitoring demonstrate a need, and if scientific evidence emerges that there are opportunities to deploy new technologies or revise the deployment of current technologies to produce even cleaner results.

The City noted that that source control work associated with the lower and upper river must be managed together over the long term to maintain the river and its community in as healthy a state as possible. We committed to working with Ecology and all other parties involved to do what we can to make this happen.

While the Superfund cleanup and pollution source control are fundamental to the health and well being of South Park, Georgetown and the businesses along the river, they are not enough to achieve the quality of life people desire. Faculty from the University of Washington conducted a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to examine the issues that these communities face, and would face even if there was not a Superfund designation.

The City committed to addressing the issues identified in the HIA through enhancing programs we already provide, coordinating them better, increasing access to them and developing new programs or actions. We will assemble possible actions and to estimate funding needs to:

  • Identify, encourage, or provide more options for safe fishing and healthful fish consumption.
  • Ensure equity in all policies and efforts for environment and community development.
  • Provide job training and placement assistance in addition to that provided by the EPA’s job Training Initiative.
  • Preserve affordability and produce affordable housing.
  • Promote and protect home ownership.

A more detailed list of actions under review can be found, along with a copy of the City letter, on my website at http://www.seattle.gov/council/attachments/Duwamish%20letter.MO&Council.061213.pdf [PDF]

Finally, the City urged EPA and the Department of Ecology to do everything feasible to initiate cleanup actions as soon as possible. The LDWG partners have completed successful early action cleanups at several sites (Slip 4, Boeing Plant 2, Duwamish/Diagonal, and soon Terminal 117). We know that we can achieve positive results, and it is up to all of us to keep that effective work going in an expeditious manner.

Seattle leaders are making a long term commitment to improving the quality of life for Duwamish River communities. I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that this commitment is funded and carried out.

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